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UPDATE: Chattanooga brothers find mom's grave site covered with dirt and rocks on Mother's Day

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE:  Two Chattanooga brothers went to visit their mother's grave on Mother's Day and found it in a mess. After the original story aired on Monday, the cemetery sent a crew out first thing the next morning to clean up the mess.

"It looks fine. You can tell where the dirt was on it, but for the most part, I can see my Mom. And that's what matters," said Avery Hill, who is happy he can see his mother's grave again after a devastating Mother's Day visit.

Iris Gay was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery a year and a half ago. When Hill and his brother, Chris Gay, went to visit her grave on Sunday, they were shocked to find it covered in a massive pile of dirt and rocks.

"I was furious," said Hill.

"I was dumbfounded. I was like, this is not my mother's spot," Gay said.

After Channel 3's story aired on Monday, the pile of dirt was removed the next day -- just as cemetery superintendent, Barbara Chandler, promised.

"The next morning, like I told the gentleman when he came in, it would be taken care of within the next day or two," Chandler said.

Several dirt piles were left after recent funerals because equipment used during heavy rainfall caused damage across the grounds.

"All the ruts and all the piles of dirt that had to be left, they're all taken care of with grass seed and straw," Chandler explained.

This year, Mother's Day fell in the middle of the fixes.

"Anybody's welcome to come out and check anything they'd like, and if there's something not to someone's satisfaction, we'd be glad to take care of it," she said.

Now, the brothers are putting the frustration from this Mother's Day behind them.

"With her being gone, I mean, it's always gonna take away from Mother's Day," said Hill. "But now we can come and visit whenever we want to."

Forest Hills Cemetery covers 95 acres. According to Chandler, a crew of four works full-time to maintain nearly 47,000 graves.


Two Chattanooga brothers went to visit their mother's grave on Mother's Day only to find her grave site covered in a massive pile of dirt and rocks.

"I was dumbfounded," said Chris Gay. "I was like, this is not my mother's spot. I actually drove past it and came back (thinking) they must have moved it!"

Brothers Chris Gay and Avery Hill bring flowers to Forest Hills Cemetery for each holiday. Their mom, Iris, is buried there. She died in December 2013.

The site is usually clean with flowers and a headstone. On Sunday, several headstones were covered with dirt and rocks from a fresh grave nearby.

"We can't even see the head marker or anything. I was furious," Hill said.

"It was nothing intentional," said cemetery superintendent Barbara Chandler.

The cemetery's typical policy is to haul dirt away for funerals, and then bring it back to fill in the vault. She said the recent rain has caused problems on the grounds.
 
"The last few funerals we had, we had to leave the dirt," Chandler said.

Elsewhere in the cemetery, Chandler pointed out deep ruts between rows of graves that were caused by digging equipment used during wet weather.

That has fielded additional complaints from other folks' loved ones.

Chandler said crews are working to stay on top of the cleanup, but Mother's Day weekend fell in the middle of all the fixes.

 "There is never anything malicious that we do to anything, or try to disrupt anybody's space. Our goal is to try to keep everything as nice as possible," she said.

"I'd like to see them clean it up, you know, get all this dirt off it so we can visit with our Mom," Hill said.

Cemetery officials said the grave site will be cleaned later this week.
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